By Adama Tine
As part of dialogue of cooperation between political party leaders to promote a level playing field for multi-party elections and peaceful co-existence among members, the Inter-Party Committee (IPC) over the weekend held an inaugural quarterly breakfast meeting to discuss consensus building for peaceful elections.
The meeting held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre was on the theme; ‘Commitment to Peaceful Elections’ through collective implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Code of Conduct signed by registered political parties.
Speaking on the occasion, the IPC Co-chairperson Hon. Halifa Sallah said a government based on consent of the people is the cornerstone of peace and stability in any country without which there can be no development.
According to him, in 2016, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) created a forum for dialogue among political parties of the country of which a fundamental question was raised: Could we go through peaceful elections without revitalizing the Inter-Party Committee?
“Before the 2016 elections, we reached an agreement that was supposed to be signed but at the eleventh hour, the government decided to renege on its position, therefore the signing could not take place” Sallah said.
He added that, the IPC is fully conscious that a stable and peaceful political environment is indispensable to development and they are also conscious that while the presidency is an embodiment of dignity and respect, the opposition is also an embodiment of dignity and respect.
On his part, the Political Adviser to the special representative of the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the Gambia Claude Kondor said, the inaugural quarterly meeting of the IPC seeks to facilitate dialogue among its members, and further serves as an information and experience sharing forum.
He described the meeting as a significant step forward in equipping members of the IPC, especially newly registered parties, with information regarding the MoU and Code of Conduct to facilitate dialogue, cooperation and collaboration among them which he said is desirable for the future of democracy in the Gambia.
The UNDP Resident Representative Aissata De said best practices in maturing democracies reveal that elections tend to be more peaceful and credible in political context where parties have developed a culture of building consensus on contentious electoral issues and processes. She added that in the Gambia, the culture of consensus building among political parties has gained traction in the post-2016 presidential elections, political transition largely because of strategic efforts and dialogue space provided by the IPC.
“One of the challenges facing political parties in the Gambia is leaving women behind as demonstrated by the April 2017 parliamentary elections where only three women were elected as members of the National Assembly,” she stated.